Clipper Race: Good times for now

Published on November 20th, 2019

(November 20, 2019; Day 3) – As Race 4 of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race progresses toward Australia, the upwind slam has mostly subsided, and whilst the fleet is enjoying the somewhat gentle introduction to the Indian Ocean as they head towards the Roaring Forties, there is much anticipation of what might lay ahead.

On board Unicef, currently in sixth place, Skipper Ian Wiggin says of the conditions: “With a favourable current pushing us towards Australia, our average speed is good and the waves are being smoothed. With us quickly approaching the lower latitudes, there is a sense of anticipation on board. We are trying to get a feel for the weather patterns and do not want to be caught off guard.”

GotoBermuda’s Skipper, David Immelman reports: “The sea state and wind were just great and we had 20 knot surf, after 20 knots. So much fun! All the guys were standing on the wheel with silly grins, then a grimace, then a grin again as the boat slowed to 15 then up to 18-19 again.”

On board seventh placed Seattle, the sea reminded the team exactly what it could do without warning. Skipper David Hartshorn reported: “The boat rounded up to the wind with the Code 2 flying, bang. We were pinned down in a broach. After what seemed like forever, having let the vang go, and the normal tricks, up we came and we were away, thundering through a beautiful star filled night.”

Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam currently has around a 20 nautical mile lead on the overall race leaders Qingdao and will be looking to sustain this lead to take full advantage of double race points from playing their Joker Card.

With new crew joining the team in Cape Town, Josh Stickland, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam Skipper comments: “We are in full training-mode, so our course might be a little sporadic due to the helms having to get use to the sea state, it’s a wee bit different from Level 4 training in the English Channel”.

Frustrations have ensued for Qingdao’s Skipper, Chris Brooks, as he reports: “The forecast has been for westerly breeze with some south in it. The reality has been a southerly breeze with some west in it. These two different angles make for a hugely different tactics and positioning on the course. We are not quite where we want to be right now.”

Whilst the exhilarating conditions are providing the crew with a joyful adventure at the moment, the teams are not getting too comfortable, as an intense downwind run may be lying ahead.

Guy Waites, Skipper of Dare To Lead said: “We continue our march south east. There’s a distinct lack of wind forecasted to emerge behind us and for now at least we race to stay ahead of the windhole as much as the fleet. If it catches us, there will be little, if any, escape.”


The 11 teams set off on November 17 for the Leg 3/Race 4 of the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race, which takes the fleet 4750nm from Cape Town, South Africa to Fremantle, Australia. The majority of the fleet is due to arrive in Cape Town between December 9 and 14.

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About the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race:
The Clipper Race was established in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1968-69. His aim was to allow anyone, regardless of previous sailing experience, the chance to embrace the thrill of ocean racing; it is the only event of its kind for amateur sailors.

Held biennially, the Clipper 2019-20 Round the World Yacht Race gets underway September 1 for the fleet of eleven identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s. This 12th edition has attracted 688 crew representing 43 nationalities for the 41,000+ nm course. The race finishes on August 8.

The course is divided into 8 legs and 15 individual races, with some of the crew in for the entire circumnavigation while others will do individual legs. The team having the best cumulative score over the entire course will win the Clipper Race Trophy.

The Clipper 2019-20 Race Route:
The fleet departs from London, UK to Portimão, Portugal; across the Atlantic to Punta del Este, Uruguay; the South Atlantic to Cape Town, South Africa; across the Southern Ocean’s Roaring Forties to Fremantle, Western Australia; around to the Whitsundays on the east coast of Australia, back into the Northern Hemisphere to China where teams will race to Qingdao, via Sanya and Zhuhai; across the mighty North Pacific to Seattle, USA; to New York via the famous Panama Canal; to Bermuda and then it’s a final Atlantic crossing to Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland; before arriving back to London as fully proven ocean racers.

Source: Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

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